Thank you GLAD for sponsoring this post. Learn how you can reduce waste at your next party!
The amount of trash left after Annie’s second birthday party was insane. There were mounds of wrapping paper, piles of Yo Gabba Gabba themed paper plates, dozens of empty juice boxes… the list goes on and on. We had so much waste, in fact, that we couldn’t fit it all in our trash can and Heather’s parents had to take a couple bags home with them. (How’s that for a party favor?) So when I was challenged to make our next party a green one I was both excited and nervous: excited because I wanted to see if I could reduce waste and be a more responsible party host; nervous because the next event was an important one – a Mother’s Day brunch that Annie and I are throwing at our home.
Heather is a great mother to Annie, and Heather’s Mom, Linda, is a great mother/grandmother to all of us, so it is important that the brunch goes well. Unfortunately, as cute as Annie is, she is absolute crap when it comes to party planning. Check out this excerpt from our first planning session:
MIKE: “So I thought we could have mimosas? Maybe special ones with fruit in them?”
ANNIE: “Watch Elmo?”
MIKE: “Not now, Annie. Now about the mimosas. Do you think –”
ANNIE: “Watch Elmo now?”
MIKE: “Come on, Annie! You need to focus here!”
ANNIE: “Bye Dada! Annie go play!”
Annie humoring me: “Yeah, great idea, Dada. Really.”
Despite Annie’s limited input I am glad to say I was able to quickly lock down a scrumptious menu (that’s right… I said scrumptious). The green element of the party, however, was a bit more challenging. Again, Annie was little help:
MIKE: “So, Annie, do you have any ideas on how we can make this party green?”
ANNIE: “GREEN? KERMIT IS GREEN! KERMIT DEE FROG!!!”
MIKE: “Yes, that is true. But it hardly helps us in trying to –”
ANNIE: “Watch Muppets movie, Dada?”
MIKE: “For crying out loud, Annie! Can you focus for once in your life?”
“What are you looking at, Annie! Pay attention! Concentrate!”
Luckily, after putting on “The Muppets” and listening to Annie belt out “AM I A MAN? OR AM I A MUPPET?” I was able to find a ton of great suggestions for green parties thanks to Glad’s One Bag program toolkit which encourages people to throw “one bag” events – events where you’re left with only one bag of trash at the end! The toolkit has a ton of great tips, but here are a few that Annie and I are going to use:
No Wrapping Paper
Instead of bundling up our Mother’s Day presents in wrapping paper, Annie and I will wrap them in things we already have around the house like reusable gift bags, linens, or towels.
No Plastic/Styrofoam/Paper Plates
It is so easy to use paper plates and napkins, plastic utensils, and Styrofoam cups when throwing a party, and since we will be eating outside I likely would have used some of these for our brunch. Not now. To stay green I will exclusively use real dishes, napkins, and utensils!
Set-up Easy, Labeled Sorting System
A great idea is to set up separate containers clearly labeled for glass, plastic, aluminum, compost and trash. This makes it easy for guests to be as responsible as possible!
No Single Servings
Instead of having a bunch of sugar packets on the table, I will have a sugar bowl. Similarly, instead of juice boxes for the little ones, there will be a punch bowl full of juice. Individual packets may be small, but they add up!
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty sure I’ve planned a rockin’ Mother’s Day brunch that Heather, Linda, and Mother Earth can feel good about. And I did it all without any meaningful input from Annie! (Note to Annie: you get a pass this year because you are two, so enjoy it while it lasts!)
What do you all think? Does throwing a green party this summer sound like something you would be interested in doing?
Jay- The Dude of the House says:
I’ve always been anti-wrapping paper because it is such a waste. Reusable gift bags are much more practical. And after each one of the Little Dude’s birthday parties, I am stocked for the next year.
(Does that make me green or cheap?)
Yes!!! That’s definitely something I’d be interested in! I recycle all the time.
(also, I hate plastic grocery bags! I wish everyone used fabric ones from home.)
we just went on vacation in hawaii, and the walmart only had reusable bags. if you didn’t bring your own, you bought a reusable one, or walked out with your hands full! that’s one way to really get people to start remembering to bring their own.. ikea does that too.
That would be great, sometimes I get a little lazy with the recycling but having a goal like a “one bag party” would get me motivated. My kids would love to help with something like that too.
Sounds like the ladies are going to have a great Mother’s Day! Might I suggest that washing the non-throwaway dishes be included as part of the Mother’s Day gift? We try not to use disposable plates, cups, flatwear, etc. for parties, but nothing is worse than celebrating my birthday and then having to wash tons of dishes after everyone goes home.
Do you not have recycling rubbish collections over there? We have general (tiny bin), metal and plastic (bigger bin), paper and cartons (same as metal bin) and a green waste (enormous bin). Then the local rubbish centres have specialist item recycling like lamps, electrics, oil, batteries, tyres, etc.
Becky C says:
I started doing this years ago!:) I buy the plastic “disposable” plates/forks, etc. and wash and reuse them!;) I also use reusable bags instead of gift bags or wrapping paper!:) I consider it part of the gift!!
You can also use things like kitchen towels as gift wrap..and when you come down to it they are really no more expensive than a roll of gift wrap.
Kristen @ The Chronicles of Dutch says:
I love throwing parties but honestly have not thought much about doing it in an earth friendly manner. I’d love to test it out & see if it can be done green & gorgeous!
The amount of waste at most gatherings makes me cringe. I wish more people would start using “real” dishware and silverware instead of disposable. Hopefully this will catch on!
Absolutely! My son is about to turn one, and while he can’t have a regular birthday party due to his rare endocrine disease (too much chance to get sick), I am still going to green up his home celebration! You actually just saved me from buying orange plates and cups from an online party shop. I am instead going to be using our own things, and getting the birthday boy a special orange sippy that will last far longer than his “party.”
great ideas! i just hosted a baby shower on earth day, and i made sure i used real plates, glasses and silverware. and i added to our cloth napkin collection to make sure there were enough for everyone at the party. unfortunately someone else was kind enough to pack up the wrapping paper, and crammed it into the trash can before i could put it into the recycling bin, but i felt great about the “green-ness” of the party overall!